Water Heaters

How A Water Heater Works

Most problems with water heaters are announced by noises or by water that's either too hot or not hot enough.
Sometimes you can correct the problem yourself. A possible exception is a water leak, which may require professional
service or tank replacement. Gas leaks call for immediate help from the Plumber.

Whenever someone turns on a hot water faucet, heated water is drawn from the top of the tank and is replaced by
cold water that is carried to the bottom through the dip tube. When the water temperature drops, a thermostat
activates the heat source (a burner in a gas model -- two heating elements is an electric.) A gas heater has a flue
running up the center and out the top to vent deadly gasses. An electric water heater needs no venting. In both, an
anti-corrosion anode attracts corrosion that would otherwise attack the tank's walls.

Maintenance For Good, Safe Service

• Open the drain valve at the bottom about every 6 months, letting the water run into a bucket until it looks clear
(usually about 5 gallons). This will prevent sediment accumulation.
• Annually test the temperature-pressure relief pressure buildup by lifting or depressing its handle and draining water
from the overflow pipe. If water doesn't drain out, call in a plumber to inspect.

Water Heater Safety Tip

If steam or boiling water ever comes out of the valve or the hot water faucets, shut the heater off at once. If you ever
hear a rumbling sound, assume the heater is overheating and turn it off. Call your plumber

Draining and Flushing the Tank

1. Turn off the gas or electricity.
2. Close the cold water valve.
3. Attach a hose to the drain valve, to route water into a floor drain or outdoors.
4. Open the drain valve and open one hot water faucet somewhere in the house to let in air.
5. When all water has drained, turn the cold water valve on and off until the water from the drain looks clear.
6. Close the drain valve and the hot water faucet, open the cold water valve and restore power.

There isn't enough hot water.

Check for:
• Incorrectly set thermostat.
• Defective thermostat.
• Too small of a water tank
• Clogged burner.
• Sediment has formed in the tank.
• Leaking hot water faucets.

• Turn the thermostat higher.
• Call a qualified plumbing contractor.
• Install a larger water tank.
• Turn off the gas and drain the tank.
• Repair or replace the faucets.

The water is too hot.

Check for:
• Wrong setting on thermostat.
• Defective thermostat.
• Blocked exhaust vent.

• Reset the thermostat.
• Call a qualified plumbing contractor.
• Check the vent and clear it.

Water is leaking from the heater.

Check for:
• Leak in the drain valve.
• Leaking safety valve.
• Hole in the tank.
• Leak in the plumbing connection.

• Close it tightly or replace it.
• Check the water temperature. If it's too hot, the thermostat may be broken. If the safety valve is defective, replace it.
• Buy a new water heater.
• Call a plumber.
• *Note premature wear & tear on water heaters (and plumbing fixtures) is most often attributed to excessive water
pressure (above 80 p.s.i.). See information related to pressure reducing valves.

Troubleshooting Electric Water Heaters

When an electric heater has problems, suspect the heating elements, their thermostats, and the high-temperature
cutoff. The two heating elements (upper and lower), immersed in water, are controlled by thermostats which, along
with the high-temperature cutoff, are concealed behind a panel on the side (insulation must be cut away for access
after removing the panel). If the high-temperature cutoff has tripped due to water that's too hot, the solution may be
as easy as pushing the reset button. High voltage and inaccessibility warrant a service call to adjust the thermostats,
reset the high-temperature cutoff, or to replace any of these components of the heating elements themselves.

There is no hot water.

Check for:
• The heater has no power.
• The safety thermostat has quit working.
• Defective heating thermostat.
• Defective heating elements.
• Accumulation of rust, scale, or sediment in the tank or pipes.

• Check the fuse box/ circuit breaker.
• If the heater repeatedly blows fuses call your plumber.
• Push the reset button.
• Test the heating thermostats and elements.
• Test the thermostats and replace if necessary.
• Test the elements and replace if necessary.
• Drain and flush the tank and pipes.

The hot water supply is too low.

Check for:
• Thermostat is set wrong.
• The tank is too small.
• Heat is getting loose in the pipes.
• Defective heating element.
• Leaking hot water faucets.

• Turn the thermostat to a higher temperature.
• Install a larger heater.
• Move the heater nearer to the point of use if possible.
• Insulate the hot water pipes.
• Test the element then replace it.
• Repair or replace the faucets.

The water temperature is too high.

Check for:
• Thermostat is on the wrong setting.
• Inadequate insulation around the thermostats.

• Turn up the thermostat.
• Add insulation around the thermostats.
• Test the thermostat and replace if necessary.

There is a water leak.

Check for:
• Defective gasket or seal on the element.
• Defective safety valve.
• The tank is rusted through.
• Leaking plumbing connections.

• Check and replace gasket or seal.
• Check and replace the safety valve.
• Consider replacing water heater.
• Call a qualified plumbing contractor.

Your hot water is rusty or discolored.

Check for:
• Accumulation of rust or sediment in the tank.
• Scale has formed on the elements.
• Tank glass liner may be gone.

• Drain the tank.
• Have a plumber inspect for necessary repairs